Thursday, May 14, 2015

Gulf leaders gather in U.S. to push Obama on Iran

WASHINGTON: Leaders of Gulf nations will warn President Barack Obama of the risks of completing a nuclear deal with Iran as they meet at Camp David Thursday, while Obama will try to convince them of the potential benefits for the region.

But when two days of talks wrap up Thursday, it’s unlikely much will have changed. The Gulf’s skepticism of Iran is deep-seated and extends far beyond its nuclear pursuits. Obama, meanwhile, has invested too much in the Iran negotiations to let Gulf concerns upend his legacy-building bid for a deal.

The White House is expected to offer the Gulf nations more military assistance, including increased joint exercises and coordination on ballistic missile systems. But Gulf requests for a formal defense treaty already have been denied by the U.S., in part because of the difficulty of getting such an agreement approved by Congress.

Obama met separately Wednesday with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Nayef and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. The president had planned to meet with Saudi King Salman, but the kingdom announced over the weekend that the monarch would no longer travel to Washington and would instead send the lower-ranking but highly influential princes.

The president went out of his way to praise the two Saudi princes before meeting privately with them at the White House and played down the absence of King Salman.

“The United States and Saudi Arabia have an extraordinary friendship and relationship that dates back to [President] Franklin Roosevelt,” Obama said at the start of the meeting. “We are continuing to build that relationship during a very challenging time,” he said.

Obama said they would discuss how to build on a cease-fire in Yemen and work toward “an inclusive, legitimate government” in Saudi Arabia’s impoverished neighbor.

The White House has sought to counter perceptions that King Salman’s absence was a snub that would undermine efforts to reassure the region Washington remains committed to its security against Iran. U.S. officials have said the right leaders were attending the summit, which they portrayed as a working meeting rather than a symbolic get-together.

The Gulf Cooperation Council includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

The absence of many top Arab leaders, in addition to King Salman, is viewed as a reflection of frustration with Obama’s pursuit of a nuclear deal with Iran and a perceived U.S. failure to support opposition fighters in Syria.

The president called Saudi Arabia a critical partner in the fight against ISIS militants.

Obama highlighted his interactions with his two guests. “On a personal level, my work and the U.S. government’s work with these two individuals ... on counterterrorism issues has been absolutely critical to maintaining stability in the region but also protecting the American people,” the president said.

Obama does not have private meetings on his public schedule with the leaders from the other countries.

Crown Prince bin Nayef said his country attached great importance to the “strategic and historic relationship” with the United States. Obama made no mention of Saudi skepticism of the Iran talks as he opened the meeting, but acknowledged the region was in the midst of a “very challenging time.”

“There have been disagreements under this administration and under the previous administration about certain policies and development in the Middle East, but I think on a set of core interests, we continue to have a common view about what we aim to achieve,” said Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser.

Later Wednesday, Obama was hosting a White House dinner for the Saudi princes as well as representatives from Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain. The parties planned to spend Thursday at Camp David discussing the nuclear talks and Tehran’s reputed support of terrorism in the region.

The U.S. and five other nations are trying to reach an agreement with Iran by the end of June to curb its nuclear ambitions in exchange for relief from international economic sanctions. The Gulf nations fear that an influx of cash will only facilitate what they see as Iran’s aggression.
(A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 14, 2015, on page 1.)

[dailystar.com.lb]
14/5/15
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2 comments:

  1. Misión incumplida: Ausencia de líderes árabes en la cumbre del Golfo frustra los planes de Obama ...

    La prolongación de la tregua en Yemen y la seguridad en la zona, son unos de los temas principales de la cumbre entre EE.UU. y el Consejo de Cooperación del Golfo, que comenzó este miércoles en la residencia presidencial de Camp David. Sin embargo, el rechazo de varios líderes a asistir frustró los planes de Barack Obama, quien pretendía que el evento fuera histórico.

    La ausencia más resonante es sin duda la del rey de Arabia Saudita, Salman ben Abdelaziz, quien canceló su visita y mandó a dos príncipes que ocupan los cargos de ministro de Interior y ministro de Defensa. Pero no fue el único en rechazar la invitación, ya que de los seis jefes de Estado solo dos, Kuwait y Catar, acudieron a la cita. Los otros ausentes son el sultán de Omán, Qabus Bin Said Al Said, representado por el viceprimer ministro; el presidente de los Emiratos Árabes Unidos, Jalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, excusado por problemas de salud y el rey de Baréin, Hamad Bin Isa Al Jalifa, quien rechazó la invitación de Obama para presenciar una carrera de caballos en Reino Unido..........http://actualidad.rt.com/actualidad/174776-ausencia-lideres-arabes-cumbre-frustra-planes-obama

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  2. Obama hails ‘extraordinary’ Saudi relations ...

    U.S. President Barack Obama hailed the “extraordinary friendship and relationship” Washington has with Riyadh after meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Nayef and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman at the White House after King Salman pulled out of the visit.

    “The United States and Saudi Arabia have an extraordinary friendship and relationship that dates back to [President] Franklin Roosevelt,” Obama said at the start of the meeting.

    He added: “We are continuing to build that relationship during a very challenging time.”........http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/05/14/Obama-hails-extraordinary-relations-with-Saudi-Arabia.html
    14/5/15

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